February 21, 2020

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09/05 Links Pt1: PA: Netanyahu “invaded” and “defiled” Hebron – it’s an “obvious war”; Erdogan says Turkey should have nuclear weapons like Israel; Sky News Arabia falsely labels murdered Israeli teen ‘a settler’


From Ian:

PMW: PA: Netanyahu “invaded” and “defiled” Hebron – it’s an “obvious war”
The Palestinian Authority continues to incite violence. Following yesterday’s visit by Israeli leaders to Hebron, the PA is now saying that Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s presence there was an act of “obvious war” and that he “defiled” the city:
“The [PA] Ministry of Religious Affairs emphasized that [Israeli] occupation Prime Minister [Benjamin Netanyahu]’s defilement of Hebron and the Ibrahimi Mosque (i.e., Cave of the Patriarchs) is nothing but obvious war, in which he has declared his blatant hatred towards the Palestinian presence in Hebron and the Ibrahimi Mosque, which is a purely Islamic mosque.”
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Sept. 5, 2019]

Palestinian Media Watch reported yesterday that the PA might want to launch a new wave of terror since the PA ministry, prior to Netanyahu’s visit, compared it to then opposition leader Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount in 2000, which Arafat exploited to ignite the PA’s 5-year terror campaign – the Intifada – in which more than 1,100 Israelis were murdered in terror attacks.

This hate speech and these messages of incitement to violence from the PA are continuing. The Palestinian Arab Front, which is a member of the PLO, called Netanyahu’s visit to the Cave of the Patriarchs a “defilement” and “a clear declaration of war.” The organization further incited violence, calling for “a popular response,” promising that its “fighting people will not sit idly by”:
“The Palestinian Arab Front said that Netanyahu’s invasion of the Ibrahimi Mosque and defilement of it constitute a clear declaration of war and contempt for the Muslims’ sensibilities… It called for a popular response that will be at the level of the crime the occupation forces are committing. The front added: ‘Our fighting people will not sit idly by before the defilement of its holy sites. The occupation bears full responsibility for this crime. [Our people] will defend its holy sites with all its strength.'”
[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Sept. 5, 2019]

Yesterday, the PA Ministry of Foreign Affairs called Netanyahu’s visit “a provocative colonialist and racist visit” and “warned against the dangers and consequences” of it. [Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Sept. 4, 2019]

PA’s Supreme Shari’ah Judge of Palestine Mahmoud Al-Habbash likewise used this opportunity to incite violence against Israelis, and he also compared it to Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount.

Settler Intrusions and Talmudic Rituals Temple Mount Coverage in Arabic Western Media

Last month, CAMERA took Reuters to task for English-language captions which described Jews visiting the Temple Mount as “worshippers,” despite the fact that Jews are strictly prohibited from praying or carrying out any other religious rituals at the site, Judaism’s most sacred. A review by CAMERA Arabic has found that many Arabic-language reports from Western media outlets including Sky News, CNN, BBC, al-Hurra, Independent Arabia, Reuters and France 24 commonly employ even more extreme and unfounded language, falsely calling Jews who visit the Temple Mount, or intend to visit, “settlers” or “extremists.” (All translations that follow are by CAMERA Arabic.)

Thus, for example, a France 24 broadcast misidentified Jewish visitors who visited the Temple Mount on Tisha B’Av, a solemn fast day commemorating the destruction of the Jewish temples, as settlers (“Clashes between Palestinians and the Israeli police in the al-Aqsa mosque plaza coincide with the prayer of Eid,” Aug. 11, at 0:51.)

Likewise, Al Hurra, a U.S.-based public media outlet, reported that Prime Minister Netanyahu decided not to allow “settlers” to carry out an “intrusion” or “storming” of the “al-Aqsa mosque” (“Clashes in al-Aqsa between worshippers and the Israeli police,” Aug. 11). Of course, the Jewish visitors never entered the mosque itself, and only walked around the compound outside the mosque.

BBC similarly referred to “extremist Jewish groups” and “Jewish extremists (“The al-Aqsa Mosque: clashes between Israeli police and Palestinians after Eid al-Adha’s prayer”, Aug. 11) and CNN and the Independent went with the false headlines, respectively: “Dozens of settlers intrude/storm into al-Aqsa Mosque under IDF guard,” Aug. 4. and “An Israeli minister storms/intrudes al-Aqsa under guard, heading [a group] of settlers,” July 3 (screen shot at left). Reuters, a leading wire service, also employed the “intrusion/storming” language (“Extremist Jews’ visit stokes Palestinians’ anger in the al-Aqsa Mosque compound”, June 2, video, 0:51) and wrongly reported that the Jews entered the al-Aqsa mosque.

MEMRI: Saudi Writers Attack Hizbullah: It Initiated The Military Escalation Vis-à-vis Israel To Serve Iran, Is Devastating Lebanon

Following the military escalation between Israel and Hizbullah in the last two weeks – which included the August 25, 2019 Israeli drone attack on the Dahia, Hizbullah’s stronghold in Beirut; threats of retaliation by Hizbullah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah, and Hizbullah’s September 1, 2019 firing of anti-tank missiles into northern Israel – writers in the Saudi press published articles attacking Hizbullah and Nasrallah. The writers accused Hizbullah of dragging Lebanon into confrontations with Israel to serve the Iranian agenda and thereby harming Lebanon and its economy and perpetrating treason against it. They also wrote that Hizbullah has turned Beirut into a military base and taken over Lebanon’s vital centers of power, and called to restore sovereignty to the Lebanese government, so that it will be the only force in Lebanon authorized to make decisions on war and peace.

The following are excerpts from their articles:
Senior Journalist ‘Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed: Hizbullah Is The Problem, Not Israel
On September 2, 2019, the day after Hizbullah’s missile attack on Israel, senior Saudi journalist ‘Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed, formerly the editor-in-chief of the London-based Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat and currently the head of the editorial board of Saudi Arabia’s Al-Arabiya TV and Al-Hadath TV,[1] published in the English-language Saudi daily Arab News an article titled “Imagine Lebanon without Hizbullah.” In it, he wrote:

“I think there is a group of people who still believe the lies Hezbollah and its leader spout to justify using Lebanon in this week’s attack against Israel. At the same time, I doubt there are any people, even from within this group, who agree with Hezbollah’s actions and the damage the group causes Lebanon while using excuses that no longer convince anyone.

“Hezbollah has given years of ethnic, patriotic and religious excuses, from the liberation of the south to the protection of religious places and the Syrian Shebaa Farms. Because of Hezbollah, Lebanon is beleaguered internationally in its financial transactions and trade and tourism, while nationally it is held captive and controlled, from the airport to the house of government…

“Hezbollah is the only cause of the state’s low income and political bullying…

Israel, Jews and Peace in Palestinian Authority teachers’ guides

Teachers are instructed to encourage their students to express their feelings vis-à-vis demonizing cases appearing in stories that are taught in class.

The overall picture is gloomy. Everything is tied to a fixed idea that the “other” is the source of their misfortune and, thus, that “other” should be eliminated. The part of the curriculum that refers to the conflict is built on war, not on peace and coexistence, and delegitimization and demonization are its main pillars.

This way, the Palestinian educators are imposing on their students a bleak future of hatred and misery, with no hope other than becoming a martyr in an endless struggle that is bound to bring pain and distress for years to come.

From the teachers’ guides we understand how the students are manipulated to walk along a premeditated course of getting the one-sided information, internalizing it, creating the appropriate feelings around it and thus becoming a blind tool in the hands of the system. No self-criticism, no attempt to trace some other sources of information that would raise questions, lead to deeper understanding and – in fact – build a healthy thinking person that would contribute to the wellbeing of his or her own society.

A whole generation is thus being lost. The Palestinian Authority that has been existent for over 25 years by now is responsible for this situation. But its responsibility is shared to a great extent by non-Palestinian Arab actors. Chief among these is UNRWA that uses in its schools in the’ West Bank’ and Gaza the PA educational material without the slightest effort to live up to the UN standards of peace education and to the expressed UN goal of solving the Middle East conflict peacefully.

Thus, instead of caring for the safety and wellbeing of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arab students under its sponsorship, it participates in the PA endeavor of turning them into gun fodder of the ongoing conflict.

Instead of working towards the ending of the conflict, UNRWA’s educational system and the donor states that sustain it contribute to its perpetuation. The protracted misery and distress of the Palestinian Arab youth will remain their fault.

Click here for full report.

Johnson pushes Netanyahu on two-state solution in lightning meeting

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday welcomed his Israeli counterpart to 10 Downing Street for a brief meeting, during which he stressed that London seeks a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“Of course the UK is still supporting all efforts to reach a solution to the Middle East peace process and a two-state solution,” Johnson told Netanyahu during the very short public part of the meeting.

“Well, I’d like to talk to you about that too,” the Israeli premier replied.

Netanyahu has for some time now refrained from endorsing Palestinian statehood. Instead, he has vowed to apply Israeli law in all Israeli settlements in the West Bank, a move analysts say would make a future two-state solution impossible.

Earlier during their meeting, Netanyahu indicated he had come to London mainly to discuss Iran’s increasing regional aggression.

“I want to say that you’ve been a great friend of the Jewish people and Israel. I applaud your staunch stance against anti-Semitism and your support for Israel’s security,” Netanyahu said.

“It’s not that we lack challenges. We have the challenge of Iran’s aggression and terrorism, and I’d like to talk to you about how we can work together to counter these things for the benefit of peace,” he went on.

Honest Reporting: Understanding US Foreign Aid to Israel

The ties that bind the US-Israel relationship have been the subject of intense scrutiny over the years. The economic and military aid provided to Israel by the United States has been analyzed by experts, chronicled by historians and been the basis for op-eds by pundits, peers and politicians.

Through it all, the main messages remain the same: the United States-Israel relationship remains solid with its base in bipartisan shared values and the shared strategic interests of both nations.
US aid to Israel: The numbers

American foreign aid amounts to less than a single percentage point of the American economy. Foreign aid and foreign military support remains a cornerstone of American foreign policy and Israel but one of many nations on the receiving end.

For 2017, fiscal data published on the official American government website showed that out of a total of $49 billion in US foreign aid Israel received $3.2 billion. In the same year Arab and Muslim countries received more than $20 billion of American taxpayer money. The biggest recipients were Afghanistan with $5.7 billion followed by Kuwait with $4.5 billion and Iraq with $3.7 billion.

The US used to provide Israel with economic aid as its infrastructure and economy developed. However, that aid did its job and was phased out by 2008 when Israel joined the ranks of fully industrialized nations. The “startup nation” is considered an economic powerhouse with low unemployment and a high GDP.

Turkey’s latest threat: Give us safe zone or we send refugees to EU

For a year, Turkey has threatened a military operation into eastern Syria, an area that is controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) who are partners of the US-led coalition against ISIS. In the absence of a new military adventure for Ankara’s government, Turkey’s leader has decided to threaten to send refugees to Europe, in a replay of 2015. This callous and cynical threat won’t sit well with Syrian refugees in Turkey, who increasingly see themselves as being used as a tool by the government while being abandoned in Idlib.

In a series of comments a day after Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan implied the country had a right to nuclear weapons, he has now said Turkey must be given a “safe zone” in eastern Syria or “we will have to open the gates [to Europe]. Either you support us or no one should feel sorry. We would like to host one million refugees in the safe zone.”

The comment reveals how Turkey now views its policies among Idlib, Moscow, eastern Syria, the US and Europe as all linked.

For instance, Turkey had sought out Russian air defense S-400s as part of a kind of brinkmanship with the US, hoping to pressure the US to leave eastern Syria. Then when Russia actually sent parts of the S-400 to Turkey in July – and the US appeared to end Turkey’s role in the F-35 program – Turkey changed its narrative to claiming that it could still acquire the US Patriot air defense system and the S-400. The Patriot deal, which Washington had signed off on in the fall of 2018, now seems dead as well.

Turkey also thought that it could switch from the F-35 to the Russian SU-35 and Su-57, and Erdogan went to see Russian President Vladimir Putin in late August, when they ate ice cream and joked. But Syrians in Idlib were facing a new Assad regime offensive, backed by Russia, and the Syrians were angered that Turkish observation posts in northern Syria were not doing anything but observing their defeat.

Erdogan says Turkey should have nuclear weapons like Israel

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday that it was unacceptable that Turkey was barred from having nuclear weapons while other nations in the region had them.

“Some countries have missiles with nuclear warheads, not one or two. But (they tell us) we can’t have them. This, I cannot accept,” the Reuters news agency quoted him as telling his ruling AK Party members in the eastern city of Sivas.

“There is no developed nation in the world that doesn’t have them,” Erdogan said, even though most developed nations do not have nuclear weapons.

Under international treaties only the US, Russia, the UK, France and China could have nuclear weapons. India, Pakistan and North Korea later developed them too. South Africa had several atomic bombs but dismantled them when it became a democracy.

Israel is also believed to have nuclear weapons, a fact alluded to by Erdogan.

“We have Israel nearby, as almost neighbors. They scare (other nations) by possessing these. No one can touch them.”

President Erdogan: Developed Countries Have Nuclear Missiles, but I’m Not Supposed to Have Them?

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a September 4, 2019 speech that was aired by the Anadolu News Agency (Turkey) that he cannot accept a situation in which “almost all the developed countries” have missiles with nuclear warheads while Turkey is not allowed to have them. He said that Turkey is “continuing its work,” and he criticized the world for opposing Turkey’s acquisition of the S-400 air defense system. In addition, Erdogan reassured the audience that Turkey’s S-400 system will be finished by April of 2020.

What’s Behind Turkey’s Criticism of Israel’s Nuke Program?

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan questioned Israel’s right to have nuclear weapons while Turkey does not possess such weapons. He also claimed that all developed countries possessed them? Is he right? Why would he make such a comment? Our Daniel Tsemach analyzes.

Sky News Arabia falsely labels murdered Israeli teen ‘a settler’

The murder of Rina Shnerb in a Palestinian terror attack as she was hiking with her family received only limited coverage in Arabic-speaking media outlets in the west, not unlike the case of the Guardian that was already discussed at this blog.

For example, Sky News Arabia – a venture between UK-based Sky News and UAE-based Abu Dhabi Media Investment Corp – did not address the attack directly at all. However, after three days, in a report entitled “Israel avenges the ‘Dolev attack’ with 300 houses in the settlements”, it chose to describe the innocent victim of the attack as “a settler”, without even including her name. Schnerb, it should be noted, was not a settler at all, as she lived in the city of Lod – inside Israel’s internationally recognized boundaries.

INSS: The Complexity behind Hezbollah’s Response to Israel’s Attacks

The considerations that have so far guided Hezbollah’s calculated retaliation on September 1, 2019 following Israel’s strikes, and the August 25 drone strike in Beirut in particular, reflect its character as an organization with multiple identities – all of which influence its decision making. Hezbollah simultaneously constitutes a pivotal link in the regional “resistance axis” led by Iran; a Lebanese “resistance” movement and “defender of Lebanon”; and an organization within Lebanon that preserves its independent identity and autonomous decision making. Even as Hezbollah is involved in the overarching “resistance axis” against Israel, its commitment to the Lebanese state serves as a restraint. In its brief round of fighting with Israel, Hezbollah, which seeks to avoid broadening the confrontation to a war ruinous for both Lebanon and itself, behaved like a careful state-like actor. At the same time, in its response to the Israeli strikes, Hezbollah laid down a red line whereby it will not tolerate further strikes within Lebanon’s borders, and that any such action will prompt a harsher response – something of a signal to Israel that it should take this possibility into account when mulling operations in Lebanon. In the circumstances created, Israel has several alternatives: avoiding further military action within Lebanon’s borders; continued “campaign between wars” activity in Lebanon, accompanied by the risk of escalation into a broad conflict; and a “preemptive strike” – a broad operation against Hezbollah aimed at significantly damaging Hezbollah’s precision missile capabilities and force buildup.

The anti-tank missile fire by Hezbollah at IDF forces in the Avivim area on September 1, 2019 was, in the view of Hassan Nasrallah, required, given his public statements on his intention to respond. Nonetheless, Nasrallah is not interested in an all-out war with Israel at this time. Hezbollah claimed that the attack on a military vehicle in Avivim was a response to the killing of two of its operatives in the Israeli strike on August 24 on Akraba, south of Damascus. This claim implies that the limited round of fighting with Israel has ended, while still letting Hezbollah retain the option of another strike, as Nasrallah explained (September 2). With that said, the main motive for the decision to respond was Nasrallah’s fear that the drone attack in Beirut’s Dahiyeh quarter on August 25 would serve as a precedent for further Israeli attacks on Hezbollah targets in Lebanon. The objective of the response was thus to restore the balance of deterrence with Israel and reassert rules of the game observed since 2006, under which any Israeli action within Lebanon’s borders will prompt a response by Hezbollah.

Hezbollah’s Multiple Identities
Recent events in the conflict theater between Hezbollah and Israel demonstrate the multiple identities that Hezbollah finds itself in – primarily between its identity as a patriotic Shiite Lebanese organization and its identity as a Shiite organization aligned with the Iranian Islamic Revolution that supports Iran and is supported by it. Hezbollah is a pivotal component in the Shiite Islamist “resistance axis” across the Middle East, in which Nasrallah has of late been wont to include, beyond its familiar partners – Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon – Hamas and Islamic Jihad (both Sunni) as well, in addition to the Houthis in Yemen.

At the same time, Hezbollah is a multi-faceted, autonomous organization in Lebanon. It is a political movement that in recent years has deepened its integration in the Lebanese government system; an economic organization; and a social movement that attends to the welfare of the Shiite population in Lebanon. It has at its disposal a strong and independent military with an operational arm that carries out terrorism and is also involved in crime, and it is a religious and a cultural movement. These various identities form a complex dynamic within Hezbollah’s decision making process, such that they coexist mostly in harmony, but at times reveal the contradiction between them.

HonestReporting: Hezbollah and Iran

Tensions have recently flared on Israel’s border with Lebanon after Hezbollah, a terror organization backed by Iran, fired rockets into Israel.

Hezbollah has been developing a precision-guided missile project specifically targeting Israelis. If completed, Hezbollah would be able to fire anywhere in Israel with pinpoint accuracy.

New Report Exposes Hezbollah’s Terrorist ‘Media Empire’

Hezbollah used its Al-Manar television network on Monday to broadcast footage that it claims shows a missile strike targeting an Israeli military vehicle a day earlier. The attack followed a series of reported Israeli strikes targeting Iranian and Hezbollah infrastructure in Syria and Lebanon.

Sharing the footage allows Hezbollah to save face among its supporters, and signal its resolve to the far more powerful Israeli military. But beyond propaganda and deterrence efforts, Hezbollah exploits its global media empire to strengthen a “resistance society” in Lebanon and cultivate new bases of support throughout the world, according to a new Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center report.

Hezbollah’s media domain is just one component of the terror group’s infrastructure, along with its military wing, global terrorist apparatus, and vast network of social institutions spread across Lebanese society.

Iran funds most of Al-Manar‘s budget, which runs into the tens of millions of dollars. While it generates little advertising revenue, the outlet is considered the most vital part of Hezbollah’s extensive media empire. Hezbollah broadcasts propaganda around the world in four languages, primarily targeting the Lebanese population, followed by the Arab and Muslim world. But target audiences in the West are not immune. Hezbollah outlets operate in English- and French-speaking countries, and even some Latin America states. Some countries’ efforts to bar the channels have been circumvented, as Hezbollah now relies on Russian and Indonesian satellite services to continue its broadcasts worldwide.

Why Is the US Training and Equipping the Lebanese Army?

American security assistance generally is predicated on the principle that a smaller or poorer country that has US equipment and training will be better able to defend common interests than one that doesn’t. Sometimes it works that way. But sometimes it puts the US in bed with people who want our weapons and training, but do not share our bottom line — their enemy is not ours; their rules of engagement are not ours; their government, in fact, is not a friend of ours, but maybe if we reward it thoroughly enough, it won’t actively oppose our interests.

In that latter category is Lebanon.

As Hezbollah has announced it is preparing to attack Israel, we must consider the role of the United States in arming and training the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), the national army of Lebanon that technically is an arm of the Hezbollah-dominated government in Beirut.

Lebanon is not a functional country, and there are those — the Assad family in Syria, for example — who don’t think it should be a country at all. Syria didn’t recognize the independence of Lebanon until 2008, after a 29-year occupation that ended in 2005. By law, power is shared among religious and ethnic groups — 19 in the current parliament.

Hezbollah, created, armed, and run by Iran as a Shiite supremacist military force, has both the majority in the political cabinet in Beirut and a separate, private army complete with precision missiles and rule-making authority in the southern part of the country. Lebanon has little economy, but Hezbollah runs rackets — mostly arms and drugs in South America — and kills people in Europe, as well as Jews and Israelis around the world.

Palestinian Women Demand Legal Protection After Suspected ‘Honor Killing’

Hundreds of Palestinians demonstrated in the West Bank on Wednesday to demand legal protection for women after a 21-year-old woman died last month in what rights groups say was an honor killing.

A Palestinian Authority investigation is underway into the death of Isra’a Ghrayeb, a make-up artist who activists say was beaten by male relatives after a video posted on Instagram allegedly showed a meeting between her and a man who had proposed to her.

According to Palestinian media reports, Ghrayeb sustained serious spinal injuries after falling from a balcony in her home in Beit Sahour, near Bethlehem, while trying to escape an assault by her brothers. She died on Aug. 22.

At least 18 Palestinian women have been killed this year by family members angered at perceived damage to their honor, which may involve fraternizing with men or any infringement of conservative values regarding women, according to the General Union of Palestinian Women and Feminist Institutions.

Ghrayeb’s family has denied the accusations. They said in a statement that Ghrayeb had a “mental condition” and died “after she had a heart attack, following an accidental fall into the (family’s) courtyard.

The circumstances surrounding Ghrayeb’s death have stirred outrage within the Palestinian territories and on social media, with rights activists demanding action against the alleged perpetrators and legal protection for women under the hashtag #JustceforIsraa.

Palestinian refugees in Lebanon rally for asylum outside Canadian embassy

Hundreds of Palestinian refugees, waving Palestinian and Canadian flags, gathered outside the Canadian Embassy in Beirut on Thursday, requesting asylum in the North American country.

Many among the group lamented the deteriorating economic and living conditions in Lebanon and said they wanted a more dignified life.

The periodic protests outside the embassy on the coastal highway north of Beirut began a few weeks ago, after a crackdown on undocumented foreign labor by Lebanese authorities.

There are tens of thousands of Palestinian refugees and their descendants in Lebanon. Most of them live in squalid camps with no access to public services, limited employment opportunities and no rights to ownership.

The protesters gathered on Thursday also decried what they say is widespread corruption at the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, or UNRWA.

Senior PA Official Mahmoud Habbash: Normalizing Relations with Israel is Treason

Mahmoud Habbash, a senior PA official who serves as President Abbas’ Advisor on Religious and Islamic Affairs and as the Chairman of the Supreme Council for Shari’a Justice, said in an August 6, 2019 interview on the Syrian News Channel that normalizing relations with Israel constitutes treason as long as Israel is occupying Palestine and the Golan Heights. He also claimed that takfiri Islamic ideologies that encourage extremism, terrorism, and an Islamic state, which he said are completely different from Islam, were manufactured by the West as part of a conspiracy to tear the Arab and Islamic nations to shreds and to justify Zionism and the existence of a Jewish state.

Israel’s “Campaign between Wars” to Counter Iran’s Malign Regional Influence

Most of Israel’s current security challenges stem from Iran’s aspirations for hegemony over the Middle East. To counter such threats, Israel’s defense operations have been augmented by what the Israel Defense Forces call the “Campaign Between Wars” (CBW).

The nature of the threats to Israel’s security have changed profoundly with the weakening of Arab states and their militaries. The rise of new challenges and the destruction wrought by the 2006 Lebanon war spurred the IDF to develop a concept of integrated, low-intensity, preemptive warfare.

The CBW strives for proactive, offensive actions based on extremely high-quality intelligence and clandestine efforts. The strategy’s main goals are to delay war and deter enemies by constantly weakening their force buildup processes and damaging their assets and capabilities.

In Syria, the IDF has sought to prevent Iran from entrenching itself and its foreign proxies, deploying advanced weapons capabilities, and turning the Golan Heights into another front for striking Israel.

In Lebanon, the IDF has demolished the Hizbullah/Qods Force plan to attack the Galilee through underground tunnels, and is preventing the development of precision missile capabilities that would pose a serious strategic threat to Israel.

Israel has also made substantial contributions to the regional campaign against the Islamic State and al-Qaeda.

Israel’s military and political leadership are well aware of the risks of a wider military confrontation or even full-scale war. Accordingly, Israel has implemented a stringent risk-management process to account for potentially rapid escalation. As ever, Israel must continue operating under the ancient adage: “If you want peace, prepare for war.”

Israel said again mulling raid on Iran; thinks Trump, unlike Obama, won’t oppose

Israeli officials are currently considering the possibility of conducting a military strike on Iran, with or without the approval of the United States, The New York Times reported Wednesday. They believe US President Donald Trump could decide not to stand in the way of such an attack, unlike his predecessor Barack Obama, the paper reported Wednesday in an exposé that detailed the lows and highs of the Israel-US relationship in the face-off against the Islamic Republic over the past decade.

“Once again, more than a decade after they first raised the subject with American officials, Israeli officials have been considering the possibility of a unilateral strike against Iran,” said the report. “Unlike with Bush and Obama, there is greater confidence that Trump wouldn’t stand in the way.”

The report, “The Secret History of the Push to Strike Iran,” which focused on Israeli-US efforts to prevent Iran from attaining nuclear weapons, did not specify which targets Israel was now said to be contemplating attacking. It noted that “hawks in Israel and America have spent more than a decade agitating for war against the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program,” and asked: “Will Trump finally deliver?”

“The threat of war could be a bluff, or an election ploy,” it added. “But it also represents a dangerous confluence of interests: an American president often reluctant to use military force and an Israeli prime minister looking to deal with unfinished business.”

What Does Iran’s Increased Nuclear Activity Mean?

Iran’s president has promised to begin rebuilding the country’s nuclear R&D and centrifuges as part of a rollback on the JCPOA (nuclear deal) commitments. What does it mean in the grand scheme of things? Our Daniel Tsemach analyzes.

‘Act of war’: Mattis says Obama’s inept response to Cafe Milano bomb plot ’emboldened’ Iran

Former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says he predicted years ago that Iran would escalate its provocations against the United States — and he partly blames the Obama administration’s anemic reaction to an Iranian plot to bomb a restaurant in Washington, D.C.

In his just-released book, Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead, Mattis details his time as leader of U.S. Central Command from 2010 to 2013, overseeing military operations in the Middle East and Central Asia. “From my first day at CENTCOM, I knew we faced two principal adversaries: stateless Sunni Islamist terrorists and the revolutionary Shiite regime of Iran, the most destabilizing country in the region,” he writes. “Iran was by far the more deadly of the two threats.”

That’s not how the president under whom Mattis served saw it, though, and Barack Obama eventually fired the storied Marine general for what Mattis believes were his insistent warnings about the Iranian threat.

Mattis says Washington didn’t even inform him when Iran committed an “act of war” on American soil.

The duty officer at his Tampa, Florida, headquarters on Oct. 11, 2011 told him that the attorney general and FBI director had held a press conference to announce the arrest of two Iranians who had planned a bomb attack on Cafe Milano, a high-end restaurant in Washington that was a favorite of the rich and famous, including Saudi Arabia’s ambassador, Adel al-Jubeir.

As Mattis writes, “Attorney General Eric Holder said the bombing plot was ‘directed and approved by elements of the Iranian government and, specifically, senior members of the Qods Force.’ The Qods were the Special Operations Force of the Revolutionary Guards, reporting to the top of the Iranian government.”

US Blacklists ‘Oil-for-Terror’ Ship Network as It Raises Pressure on Iran

The United States on Wednesday blacklisted an “oil-for-terror” network of firms, ships and individuals allegedly directed by Iran‘s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) for supplying Syria with oil worth hundreds of millions of dollars in breach of US sanctions.

Washington also issued a new international shipping advisory about IRGC’s use of “deceptive practices” to violate US sanctions on Iranian oil sales and warned that those doing business with blacklisted entities “are now exposed to US sanctions,” said State Department official Brian Hook, who oversees Iran policy.

Hook also announced that the United States would offer a reward of up to $15 million for information that disrupts the financial operations of the IRGC and its elite foreign paramilitary and espionage arm, the Quds Force.

The steps intensified a US “maximum pressure” campaign aimed at eliminating Iran‘s oil exports, its main source of income. It will likely intensify tensions that erupted with President Donald Trump’s withdrawal last year from a multilateral accord designed to stop Tehran from producing nuclear weapons.

Iran has been gradually reducing its compliance with the 2015 agreement in a bid to pressure European countries to compensate it for the severe damage done to its economy by multiple rounds of US sanctions. Tehran was expected to announce further breaches sometime this month.

The 10 individuals blacklisted on Wednesday included Rostam Qasemi, a former Iranian oil minister, and his son, the US Treasury Department said in a statement.

EU urges Iran to ‘reverse’ its violation of limits on nuclear activity

The EU on Thursday urged Iran to reverse its scale-back of commitments to the 2015 nuclear accord, after the Islamic Republic announced a day earlier it would no longer limit its atomic research.

European Commission spokesman Carlos Martin Ruiz de Gordejuela told a media briefing in Brussels that the decision was “inconsistent” with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the nuclear deal’s official name.

“And in this context we urge Iran to reverse these steps and refrain from further measures that undermine the nuclear deal,” he said.

Iran has been progressively pulling back from the terms of the 2015 deal as it comes under intensifying sanctions pressure from the United States, which exited the accord under US President Donald Trump.

The remaining powers — Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China — are seeking to keep the deal alive. The European powers are trying to reduce US-Iran tensions, but Washington and Tehran have been hardening their positions in recent months.

U.S. Won’t Waive Sanctions to Allow French Plan for Iran Credit Line

A senior US official on Wednesday ruled out issuing waivers to Iran sanctions to permit a French-proposed credit line, which Tehran says could bring it back to full compliance with the nuclear deal.

“We can’t make it any more clear that we are committed to this campaign of maximum pressure and we are not looking to grant any exceptions or waivers,” Brian Hook, the State Department coordinator on Iran, told reporters.

He added, however, that he has not yet seen a “concrete” French proposal and could therefore not comment on the idea.

French President Emmanuel Macron has been seeking to ease soaring tensions by bringing some economic relief to Iran and last month appeared to draw President Donald Trump’s interest when Macron said he hoped to arrange a summit between the US leader and his counterpart Hassan Rouhani.

Russian Senator on Iranian TV: Russia Understands Iran’s Decision to Renew Uranium Enrichment

Iliyas Umakhanov, the Deputy Speaker of Russia’s Federation Council, said in a September 3, 2019 interview on Channel 5 TV (Iran) that the behavior of the U.S. and President Trump resembles street brawling, bullying, and hooliganism, which he said can only by “cured” by force and determination. He said that he understands why Iran has decided to renew uranium enrichment, and he expressed support for a peaceful Iranian nuclear program. In addition, Umakhanov expressed hope that relations between Russia and Iran will remain peaceful and strategic rather than tactical. He avoided specifically answering how Russia would respond if Iran withdrew from the JCPOA, and he said that the Arab countries along the Persian Gulf would have to be very stupid to listen to the U.S. and fight a war against Iran. When asked what Russia’s response would be if war breaks out between Iran and the United States, Umakhanov said: “I volunteer for the war.”

Clifford D. May: The Islamic republic lashes out

It’s been 40 years since I’ve been to Iran. I’d love to return. At present, that seems inadvisable.

I went there as a reporter, in the early months of 1979, a time of revolution, a time when many Iranians, perhaps most, hoped they might soon be freer than they had been under the shah, and more prosperous, too.

My media colleagues regarded Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the revolution, as an avatar of authentic Third World spirituality and social justice. The US ambassador in Tehran, William Sullivan, compared him to Mahatma Gandhi.

I left Iran before summer, and by fall it was clear that Iran’s new rulers were achieving little – unless forcing women to cover up can be considered an achievement. In an attempt to reignite revolutionary fervor, militant young followers of Khomeini seized the American Embassy and took American diplomats hostage.

Though a more blatant violation of international law is hard to imagine, an effective response was not forthcoming. Khomeini famously concluded: “America cannot do a damn thing against us.”

Confident of that assessment, the Islamic republic went on to become the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism, eventually providing “nearly a billion dollars a year” to favored asymmetric combatants, according to the State Department. The regime has been behind terrorist attacks and assassination plots in the Middle East, Europe, Latin America, and the US.

Iranian woman arrested for attending soccer game sets herself on fire

A young Iranian woman set herself on fire to protest what she was told could be up to six months of jail time for watching a men’s soccer game. She attempted to disguise herself in men’s clothing, but was discovered, arrested and charged with violating modesty laws. The Iranian Rokna news agency, has only named the woman as “Sahar,” the Telegraph reported.

“The 29-year-old is suffering from third-degree burns, and is currently under life support,” said the CEO of Motahari Emergency and Burns Hospital, according to Radio Farda. Sahar reportedly suffered from burns on 90% of her body.

Rokna reported that Sahar’s sister said, “They detained my sister on March 12, 2019, when she tried to enter Azadi Stadium, and watch Tehran’s Esteqlal soccer club home match against the United Arab Emirates’ Al Ain, FC.”

This incident comes almost three weeks after Iran, under international pressure, released a group of women who were arrested for watching a men’s soccer match. The women disguised themselves as men, just as Sahar did, but failed to fool Iranian officials.

Iran has consistently faced international scrutiny regarding its modesty laws. According to the Telegraph, Iran says that women watching men’s soccer promotes promiscuity.

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